Formed in 2007, Dallas String Quartet is an accomplished outfit comprised of equally accomplished musicians. They have played for various figures and organizations, from former President Obama to the NFL. Dallas String Quartet is known for interpretations of an eclectic range of styles, creating tasteful renditions of both modern and pop music classics in addition to updated takes on more traditional forms of music.
Coming fresh from their cover of Dua Lipa’s disco-esque “Love Again,” Dallas String Quartet once again showcases their versatility with their latest single “Sabor,” a deftly composed fusion of Latin Jazz and Salsa with the energy to enliven a dancefloor. The song shines with sheer compositional brilliance, and is, simply put, a lot of fun.
“When Ion approached me about a brand new Dallas String Quartet piece, he mentioned he would love something with a Cuban, Latin Jazz flavor. Immediately, I went to the piano and started workshopping some ideas. Ion and I worked hard for the next several months tinkering, refining, and distilling the song until it was where it is today!”– Drew Zaremba, “Sabor” Composer
“Sabor” enchants from start to finish, allowing each instrument that delivers melodic elements to enjoy center stage for its time. From the beginning, featured artist Jesús Molina dazzles on the piano with staccato-laden improv prowess.
Bold horns drive vibrant transitions, the first of which leads us to be whisked away by the graceful beauty of Ion Zanca’s fine work on the viola. Zanca’s credentials include a graduate degree in Music Performance from Southern Methodist University and a voting member for the Grammy Awards.
Skill and spirit proceed to congeal in the playing of violins from Melissa Priller and Eleanor Dunbar. The performances from Priller and Eleanor are virtuosic, which makes sense: both Priller and Dunbar were music prodigies at young ages, and both have Bachelor of Music degrees in Violin Performance.
“We knew we wanted the strings to be the primary feature. The orchestration was dictated by the music. Since we used a Latin vibe, we had to have some instruments that are not normally in our regular orchestration.”– Ion Zanca, Founding Member of Dallas String Quartet
Bongos, congas, maracas, and other staples of Latin and Jazz music alike constitute the percussive instrumentation, offering an upbeat Salsa motif. It should come as no surprise how the rhythm is so solid—the percussive instrumentation is courtesy of Efren Guzman Jr., who personally learned from greats such as Luis Conte and Peter Erskine during his studies at the University of North Texas.
“It was a great honor and privilege to work with some of the Colombian percussionists who really helped make “Sabor” feel authentic and wonderful.”– Drew Zaremba, “Sabor” Composer
The basis for rhythmic grooves wouldn’t be complete without the bass, and Young Heo deploys sonorous bass that is faithfully conscious of the melodic progression. Heo developed his adeptness to track such freefrom character found in “Sabor” through his training at University of Texas Arlington and University of North Texas, where he played with elite jazz ensembles.
A testament to how well the group collaborates, some of the best moments of “Sabor” are when the strings, piano, horns, and bass layer over one another to make emphatic, robust chords. In fact, the collaboration is done so well as to be seamless; phrases and instruments cascade into one another over the course of the song, making for an exemplary case of the dynamic nature encompassed in Jazz.
“The big band feels like the good old days are back where you can make music with friends again. Everybody misses being out and hanging out with friends.”– Ion Zanca, Founding Member of Dallas String Quartet
Thematically, “Sabor” strikes a balance between vigorous energy and reserved sophistication, showcasing a focused range of delightful sonic flavors. This song would be at home at a dancehall or ballroom just as it would a prestigious event. Tension ebbs and flows organically, created by a complex emotional dynamic between melancholy and determination.
The melodies in “Sabor” are of a discerning palette, featuring rich sounds from very capable musicians. Tight, disciplined tones and vibrato from the strings add potency to the complex emotional content of the melodies. While the strings are responsible for the melancholy, the horns triumphantly conjure sentiments of confident zeal. Jesús Molina’s piano panache provides precision Jazz vibes somewhere in between the emotional dynamic of the strings and horns, yet Molina projects passion all the same.
“Sabor” is a contemporary interpretation of the classic sounds of Latin Jazz and Salsa. The broad spectrum of musical savvy gives the listener plenty to hear, which means “Sabor” deserves to be listened to more than once so that the fullness of its sound, with its arrangement and evolving progression on each individual instrument, can be truly appreciated. Dallas String Quartet’s “Sabor” is a breath of fresh, well-refined air.
Without further ado, here is “Sabor” by the amazing Dallas String Quartet!